Thoughts & Feelings Column: Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club – Episode Four


The first thing I have point out about this episode is something that I’ve loved up until this very moment: the backgrounds. You see, until now the girls didn’t seem so out of place, or maybe I just didn’t notice it until now. Regardless, these typical anime person designs do not match up with the backgrounds in this episode, and I can see this being a problem going forward. Especially since I’ve finally noticed.

2Specifically, the backgrounds are pastel-painted-like and the girls are very flat and flatly colored compared to the rich mixings behind them. There is even a cut where we look at food that was painted in the same way the backgrounds are, instead of in the character style, which shocked my brain out of the episode. I legitimately lost focus for a second. Such a stark contrast is difficult to overlook.

Anyway, the plot for this episode revolves around the girls still trying to make the club, and preventing the swimming team from taking Higa away. If you remember, we learned last episode that Higa is good at swimming- or at least holding her breath.

When I first read this episode’s plot description I was curious if anything spoiler-y was omitted because partaking in a bike race to prevent Higa from leaving possible recruitment to a club that doesn’t technically exist yet seemed like a short-form issue that could be solved in segments with more focus on Higa and why she wants to cycle more than swim. However, instead of being given anything interesting we are blessed with this masterpiece of stalling. I’m really starting to wonder if this show wants to have these girls ride bikes as a team since it’s been four episodes and they have yet to officially form this club or recruit (or even meet) the other members shown in the opening.

Anyway, the show begins with the girls setting up their new club room for their yet-to-exist club to recruit an advisor. When Shiki Mori, the Tomo and Hiromi’s homeroom teacher, arrives the girls really lay on the pampering. Mori admits that she is required to be an advisor to a club after agreeing to advise the Cycling Club, and this unintentionally makes me believe that Mori doesn’t really care about the club at all. Mori is simply fulfilling a requirement for her job. Fantastic.

This portion of the show was rather short, and considering the decorations put up I had expected there to be student recruitment, too. Instead, the scene ends a little after Mori agrees to be the club advisor and the girls all eat Higa’s cooking.

After that wonderful opening, we get into the meat of the episode: the swim team. Higa is apparently a very promising athlete, though we have no example of that in any way other than her ability to hold her breath for minutes at time and save Hiromi from drowning in five feet of water.

3The swim team’s top athlete is upset that Higa is going jump ship and join the cycling club, though it’s revealed that Higa never agreed to join the swim team in the first place. Moving along and past this piece of information, the swim team challenges Hiromi to a bike race for Higa.

It’s assumed that Higa will have to join the swim team against her wishes if Hiromi loses this race. Which seems very wrong to me on a fundamental level, but no one else in the show (not even the teacher) questions this so I have to assume that it’s completely fine to make a decision for another, unwilling person.

4I’m not going to go into the race details too much because there really are none. It’s a race up a hill where the girls learn about the importance of seat height. We also get the chance to see Hiromi forget to pedal the bike again. Truly wonderful.

The swim club ends up winning this race despite the handicap placed on Hiromi and the disadvantages given to the swim team’s ace. However, we learn that this was never actually said, just inferred, and the swim team just wanted to test the cycling club because they are competitive. However, I want to again point out how okay everyone was with this possible human rights violation. Higa was going to have no choice and was perfectly fine with that. Okay.

After the race is finished the girls turn around to look at a sun-blocked sea that holds no significance for us as viewers since we can only see the sun bouncing off the water, no beautiful view as claimed by the cast.

Overall this episode was a step down. I thought I was starting to like the show, but instead I realize that I was insane to think that. This episode is, for lack of a better word, boring and dull. It lacks the excitement it wishes to instill by placing too much time on subjects that could be covered in shorter segments to aide the story growth. I understand that Minami Kamakura is attempting to showcase how cool riding bicycles is, but all of that is lost when you try to philosophize the goal of the show as something more than “just have fun.”

Read about episode five!

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